- Google updated the General Category Blocking feature in AdSense, giving publishers more control over the ads that appear on their websites, per a company blog post.
- General Category Blocking was introduced in 2010 and the recent update increased the categories and subcategories from 250 to 470. An example provided by Google is that instead of blocking the entire "apparel" category, publishers can now block ads from specific subcategories like "sunglasses," "handbags" or "watches."
- Google warned publishers that blocking categories of ads can impact revenue, but the update to General Category Blocking gives them more granular control over specific categories of ads they don’t want appearing on their websites.
The latest updates to AdSense come at a time when many are reevaluating the inner workings of the digital publishing and advertising ecosystem. In the wake of controversies surrounding fake news and otherwise highly divisive media, brands are becoming more sensitive as to where their ads appear. Publishers, for their part, are seeking out better monetization strategies, with more fitting and better-targeted ads providing opportunity.
The AdSense changes offer more categorization options and may subsequently bolster these strategies. While more granular ad categorization doesn't necessarily pertain to fake news, it does play into a growing trend of giving publishers and advertisers more concrete control over their respective content and how each supports the other.
To date, much of digital media's structure has been relatively ad hoc. The lack of any industry-wide standardization has been compounded by the rise in automation technologies like programmatic, which increase the efficiency of media buying and placement but can't necessarily make the proper judgment calls for whether or not ads are the right fit for a given publisher.
In a separate but related reevaluation of the digital media ecosystem, the IAB recently overhauled its Content Taxonomy. Like Google, the bureau is aiming to expand categorization and hammer down on specificity. These efforts will not only help brands and advertisers find the right fit but might generally boost transparency in a time when it appears to be in short supply.